“Thanks to the Foundation, more than 400 children in Spain and India are enjoying the opportunity to improve their lives and their future. We have made a dream and a commitment come true, which encourages us to continue working even harder every single day.”
Rafa Nadal was born in Manacor, Mallorca in Spain. From an early age his uncle Toni saw that he had a talent for tennis and introduced Rafa to the sport. At the age of 12 Rafa won the Spanish and European title for his age group and the Spanish Tennis Association decided a couple of years later that it was time he moved to Barcelona to continue his tennis education and training. This request was subsequently turned down because Rafa’s family did not believe he had to move away from home. It was felt at the time that he could continue to develop as an athlete without having to move around all the time. The implication from this decision meant that Rafa would receive less funding from the Tennis Association to help cover his costs. Thankfully, Rafa’s family remained supportive and helped him financially.
At 15 years of age Rafa made the transition from amateur to professional status and by the age of 17 he defeated one of the all time greats in the sport, Roger Federer. He also become the first young man to reach the third round at Wimbledon which was something nobody had seen since Boris Becker did it at the age of 18. Since then, Rafa has won numerous Grand Slam titles across the world and has been a master in the French Open at Roland Garros. He currently holds the record for consecutive title wins in that competition. Sport is something that often brings out the best in people, admittedly, it can also bring out the worst in people, but not with Rafa.
Success on the court has meant that opportunities have arisen off the court. In 2007 Rafa Nadal decided that he wanted to create a foundation and in 2008 his wish became a reality. The idea behind it was to help socially discriminated children and teenagers, who run the risk of exclusion by society. Their method for doing this was to offer educational programs with the core aspect of sport being included. The foundation is convinced that sport is the best tool for social integration and personal development and thus, sport, is a focal point of what they do. Having experienced what sport has done for myself and my own social and personal development, those who benefit from the foundation will learn about attitudes and values that incorporate teamwork, discipline, hard work, respect and trust. In doing so, the foundation is having a profound affect on the young people of today by improving their lives and the people around them over time.
“It began with a feeling of unease, of feeling uncomfortable in the face of the huge inequalities that I found on my travels. I expressed my desire to take some action to my closest circle of family and friends. It appeared to be difficult and complicated to think out how to do something really well. But in 2008, with great enthusiasm, we proposed to start out step by step. This is how we created the foundation.”
Rafa Nadal is now the patron of the Foundation but continues to be involved in the decision making process while the other people who are heavily involved with the foundation include a mixture of Rafa Nadal’s family, his friends, and others who also believe in Rafa Nadal’s philosophy and ambitions. Those included in the Foundation team that help it click and work well are Rafa Nadal’s mother, Ana Maria Parera who is the President of the foundation, his father Sebastian Nadal as the foundation Secretary, Claudia Blasi as the director and Maria Francisa Perello as the Director of Social Integration. During it’s infancy the Foundation now has over 400 children and young adults across various locations who participate in the programs provided.
The Foundation acknowledges that collaborations with the likes of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, Special Olympics Spain and SOS Children’s Villages Spain has allowed the Foundation to help increase the number of children and young adults who are exposed to the their philosophy. Companies such as Kia, Bablot and the United Postcode Lottery have also helped the Foundation to grow and develop their projects to a higher standard. Charities or Foundations often rely on donations from from all kinds of people in society and quite often donations of substantial amounts are often kept private at the wish of the person donating.
There are a number of programmes that the Foundation offers with two of them residing in Spain and another in India. The Anantapur Education Centre looks to provide children and young adults with tennis training, improve their computer skills, improve their English skills, offer school support and give children and young adults classes in nutrition and health. More than Tennis, along with Special Olympics Spain provides tennis training, sports competitions and promotional clinics while focusing on increasing participation in the sport of tennis among young people with learning disabilities. The Integration of Sport programme, together with the SOS Children’s Villages Spain helps to bring sport to children who are unfortunate enough to find themselves in the situation of isolation, uprooting or at risk of social exclusion. There is not as much of a focus on tennis in this programme but children and young adults can find themselves participating in a variety of sports including football, basketball, baseball, mountain biking, volleyball, hockey, swimming and many more.
You can show your support to Rafa Nadal and his Foundation by visiting http://www.fundacionrafanadal.org/
The website is available in English, Spanish and Catalan.
(Copyright belongs to Rafa Nadal and the Rafa Nadal Foundation. Any pictures and additional information are used with Rafa Nadal and the Foundation’s permission.)